The Hindu
J. Balaji
New Delhi

Political parties not unduly bothered about cases against candidates

Political parties shout from rooftops that politics should be delinked from criminals, but a look at their nominees for Phase I of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections makes it clear that both are inseparable and, in fact, two sides of the same coin.

As many as 109 (out of the 284 analysed) candidates have declared in their affidavits that they are facing criminal cases and 46 of them have been booked for serious offences such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion.

Interestingly, this is only the beginning as details of the candidates for the other six phases are yet to come out. Nominations have not yet opened for some phases. The first phase, scheduled for February 8, will cover 55 constituencies, mostly in the north-central region. According to an analysis by the U.P. unit of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the parties have shown no hesitation in giving ticket to those with a “criminal background.” The Samajwadi Party has given ticket to 28 such persons (out of its 55 nominees in phase I).

Not lagging far behind, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party have each given ticket to 24 such persons. The tally in the Congress is 15, the Peace Party 12, the Janata Dal (United) 5 and the Rashtriya Lok Dal one.

As for candidates (total 46) facing serious criminal cases such as murder, attempt to murder, extortion etc., the BJP tops the list with 12 nominees, followed by the BSP and the SP with 11 each, the Peace Party 6, the Congress 5 and the JD (U) one. Another shocking revelation in the analysis is that 144 (51 per cent) of the 284 candidates are crorepatis, according to their affidavit.

Among the major parties, the average asset of a BSP nominee is Rs. 3.38 crore (it is the ruling party). For an SP candidate, it is Rs.1.74 crore; it's Rs. 1.56 crore for the BJP, Rs.1.34 crore for the Congress, Rs.1.01 crore for the Peace Party and Rs. 32.09 lakh for the JD(U).


Action against 11 candidates


The Election Commission on Saturday directed seven district election officers of Uttar Pradesh to register criminal cases against 11 candidates, who claimed that they took money from corporate houses for fighting the poll in a quid pro quo for serving their interests after getting elected to the Assembly.

The Commission, besides alerting the investigation wing of the Income-Tax office in Lucknow, called for an action taken report from the Chief Electoral Officer by Sunday.

The Commission, which took suo motu action following a “sting operation” conducted by a Hindi TV channel — India TV — and telecast on January 26, was shocked to hear from some of the prospective candidates that they spent between Rs.1 crore and Rs. 3 crore, including expenses in the name of dummy candidates, and liquor and other goodies for the electors, though the maximum expenditure allowed in an Assembly poll is only Rs.16 lakh.

The Commission directed the election officers in charge of the districts, where the 11 persons (supposed to be candidates) hail from, to file criminal cases against them.

As the incident amounted to taking bribe, the persons, if convicted by court, might have to spend up to one year in jail or pay a fine.

The Commission, which went through the transcript of the sting “Operation MLA,” appealed to the parties, to which the candidates allegedly belonged, to inquire into the matter and advise their functionaries to refrain from such activities. “The Commission has reiterated its stand that such bribery be made a cognisable offence under the IPC. The Commission has again approached the government to pass an ordinance to make suitable changes in the law, as the matter is quite serious,” it said. 

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